ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 1, 2015) -- Military and civilian families from around the community received information about local, county and state educational opportunities during the Community Partnership for Education event at Aberdeen High School, in Aberdeen, Maryland, Sept. 26.
The event featured a panel discussion and workshops focused on science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, as well as challenges facing children and youth in today's society.
Aberdeen Proving Ground partnered with Harford, Cecil and Baltimore County public school districts as well as the Maryland State Department of Education to present the first-ever gathering themed, "Investing in the future, planting the seed."
Parents of kindergarten through 12th-grade students were encouraged to attend the summit for education conversation.
Panel guests included APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford; Mary Gable, assistant state superintendent, Division of Academic Policy and Innovation, Maryland State Department of Education(MSDE); Barbara P. Canavan, superintendent, Harford County Public Schools (HCPS); and George Roberts, senior executive director of curriculum and instruction, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).
During the panel discussion, Crawford thanked collaborators and said the event is about making connections and illuminating conversations surrounding education.
"My hope is that today begins a long, standing relationship between Aberdeen and your installation -- because this is your installation -- in the areas of education," he told the audience. "And as your general, it means a lot to me that you took the time to be here."
Gable said that other installations in Maryland have established similar ties to surrounding communities and that the event established a foundation that should continue to grow.
"Many of the opportunities employed with STEM and [other programs] already employed in this particular county with this particular installation will benefit," she said. "This is about education opportunities. With the command being very proactive in establishing an education partnership and with support from the school systems and parents, there's no limit to the learning potential for students."
Highlighting already-established STEM projects with local schools, Canavan praised APG scientists and engineers, remarking that "they are showing [youth] what they need to become scientists or engineers or obtain a science degree."
"APG has been very good for our organization," she said. "All endeavors associated with it have seen so much growth."
Canavan called parental involvement a vital part of childhood education and she urged listeners to remain involved through all the education years; not just at the beginning.
"As children leave elementary school, for some reason, people think they're going to be okay," she said, "but you need to make sure they're getting what they need at every level. You want to make sure they're happy and that they're coming to you with their problems."
"All parents want what's best for their children," she added. "Make sure you've done everything you can to support their every opportunity."
Roberts thanked Crawford for including BCPS and said the installation's STEM partnerships along with Maryland's Career Technology Education (CTE) programs and other trainings that provide similar advantages will enable children and youth to compete on all levels beyond high school.
"This also allows us to take advantage of our proximity to the proving ground," he said.
According to the MSDE website, Maryland CTE programs fall under ten career clusters, groupings of interrelated occupations that represent the full range of career opportunities in key economic sectors of Maryland's economy. College and school administrators, counselors, and faculty members are using the career cluster system to develop programs that extend from high school to two-and four-year colleges and universities, apprenticeship programs and the workplace.
WORKSHOPS AND DISPLAYS
A series of workshops addressing an array of education-related issues were held in the school's classrooms where subject matter experts shared information and answered questions. They included personnel from county and state school systems and organizations as well as APG's Col. Joanna Reagan, program manager and dietician, Army Public Health Center; Louie Lopez, APG STEM outreach coordinator; and Stacie Umbarger, APG Schools Liaison.
The diverse subjects included "Department of Defense STEM Opportunities," "Mental Health Issues in Childhood and Adolescence," "Bullying: Fight, Flight or Conquer," "CTE Pathways -- What is Career & Tech Ed?" "Performance Triad for Our Youth," "Student Ambassador Program," "What Does it Mean to be College and Career Ready?" "Cyberbullying/Digital Safety," "Maryland Agenda for Wellness," "Educational Opportunity for Military Children," "PARCC Assessments in English/Language Arts," and "Snapshot of Drug Use in Harford County."
Casey Weininger, a physical scientist with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, displayed a basic 3-D printer that students assembled during a STEM summer camp. He also shared information about ECBC additive manufacturing and distributed copies of the organization 2014 Solutions Report.
Master Sgt. Brad Burgess, performance triad liaison, hosted a Public Health Center display and talked to visitors about the Army Performance Triad of exercise, nutrition and sleep, and distributed 26 Week Health Challenge calendars and other health-related handouts.
The Chesapeake Chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers also provided a display.
Attendees and instructors said they appreciated the event.
With one in 12th grade, another in 10th and their youngest in the 5th grade, Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Casquete of the Army Test and Evaluation Command said he and his wife Sandra are all about keeping apprised of opportunities for their children.
"I'm always away so she's the one who helps them, but we're both excited by the STEM opportunities," he said. "We never heard about this at Fort Riley [Kansas]."
"He's an awesome mentor," Sandra Casquete said of her husband, adding that her oldest children are "at the stage where they're unsure" of which path to take.
"So we're learning everything we can and pushing them both to be ready when it's time to step out," she said.
Heather Wooldridge, college and career readiness coordinator, BCPS, instructed the "What Does It Mean to be College and Career Ready" workshop, which addressed state readiness standards and explored the four keys to college and career readiness. Wooldridge said the parents were "amazing."
"I asked them to be collaborative learners and they embraced that," she said. "I'm hoping they can use what they learned. The whole idea was geared to getting parents to be energized about education. We need to keep learning and growing with our children."